Salem: The Massachusetts Town Switching Up Its Spooky Reputation

Salem: The Massachusetts Town Switching Up Its Spooky Reputation

Just a 30-minute drive from Boston, the spooky city of Salem makes for a thrilling adventure. Between eerie tours and bone-chilling exhibitions, we visit a family-run seafood stalwart, artisanal distillery and chic boutique hotel


Salem, Massachusetts, US.

Why now?

Located in the county of Essex, Salem is just a short drive from
Boston. The destination is synonymous with the 17th-century witch
trials held here, which saw Puritans persecuting (mostly) women for
allegedly consorting with the devil, casting spells upon children,
ruining harvests and the like. The coastal city, which has a
full-time population of just 45,000, becomes a hotspot for
thrill-seekers in autumn, when harrowing performances at The House of the Seven
are among the abundance of Halloween celebrations. There
are also year-round paranormal activities at the likes of the
historical Joshua Ward House, where witch- and ghost-hunting make
for a seriously alternative getaway.

Dark history aside, this is a city that has a fiercely
contemporary attitude, as evidenced in its experimental cocktail
menus, boutique boltholes and family-run eateries. We hopped off
our broomsticks to take you inside the addresses that make this a
must-visit destination.

Salem Witch Museum

The harbour, left, and the entrance of the Salem Witch
Museum. | Photo credit: Lucy & Pierette / /

Don’t miss

The Peabody Essex
showcases American, Asian and Oceanic artefacts dating
back to the 18th century. While there are plenty of tours shedding
light on the events of 1692, there are also plenty of current
exhibitions to dive into. This month, catch a great one on the life
and legacy of the late fashion designer Patrick Kelly, whose work
pushed racial and cultural boundaries, with exhibits on Black
empowerment and the inspiration behind some of Kelly’s most
legendary designs. Check out the website to see what’s on before
you visit, but note that the museum is closed on Tuesdays and

Where to stay?

It wouldn’t be a trip to Salem without staying at The Merchant. Dating back to 1784, this 11-key
bolthole effortlessly marries history with contemporary flair.
Bedrooms are individually designed, with antique furnishings and
bold colour palettes used to create stylish and snug spaces. Spend
afternoons on the outdoor terrace, where cloud-like sofas, twinkly
lanterns and soft blankets make for a sublime set-up. It’s worth
noting that there’s no in-house restaurant here. Instead, make
tracks to nearby Crave, where build-your-own breakfast bowls and
top-notch fry-ups await.

Where to go for dinner?

Known for its hand-stretched dough, smaller-sized pies, minimal
ingredients and wood-fire oven, Bambolina serves a slice of la dolce vita in the heart
of Salem. Its cosy dining room – all bare-brick walls, LED lights
and communal seating – draws crowds of hungry locals and tourists
alike. If you’d like to learn how to make your own crust, keep your
eyes peeled for the pizzeria’s next cooking class.

The family-run Turner’s Seafood at Lyceum Hall is a great
choice for those who enjoy their dinner fresh-from-the-water. Daily
specials are authentically shucked and served at the city’s
favourite fish house. We’re popping by for a lobster roll at
lunchtime, before returning for a clam linguine come sunset.


A tray of oysters, left, and an orange peel cocktail. |
Photo credit: Huang & Thomas /

And for a drink…

Drinks taste better at the Deacon Giles
. Snag a chair at its sultry Speakeasy Lab, where
classic cocktails are reimagined by talented bartenders. Our order?
The pumpkin-spiced vodka and Irish breakfast rum. There are also
regular tasting tours for those who’d like to discover more about
the distillation process, which also includes complimentary spirit
slurping FYI.

Who to take with you?

A literary fanatic. Those familiar with Arthur Miller’s The
Crucible will revel in the history Salem holds. Carve out time to
visit the Salem Witch Museum, where gripping tours and eerie
exhibitions take place in a gothic church. Not heading to the US
anytime soon? The Crucible is currently on at the National Theatre.

Essentials to pack

Everyone knows the struggle of switching off during a flight –
and if you don’t, lucky you. Pack this Olivia Von Halle silk-satin eye mask to snooze
in style. Then, wake up with these Noble Panacea Vibrant Eye Infusion pouches
suitable for all skin types and promising a brighter

How to get there

There are no direct flights from the UK to Salem. We suggest
flying with British Airways from London Heathrow to Boston Logan
International Airport. It’s just a 35-minute drive from there to
the city centre.

Discover More
Kaunas, Lithuania: The Leafy European City that Should be Your Next City Break